Tuesday marked Cherokee Nation Day at the Capitol, and representatives of the tribe were honored on the floor of the Senate. The Cherokee Nation is the largest federally recognized tribe in Oklahoma and in the United States. Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman presented a Citation of Congratulations, co-authored by Minority Leader John Sparks, on behalf of the chamber. Both Bingman and Sparks are citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
“The Cherokee Nation, its culture, and language, are all part of Oklahoma’s identity as a state—we’re partners and we value the cultural and economic contributions the Nation and its citizens make,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “It’s always a pleasure to welcome representatives of the tribe to the Oklahoma State Senate.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker asked all the Cherokees in the Chamber to stand, which included many guests in the visitors’ gallery as well as several senators on the floor who are also members of the tribe.
"It's important for the Cherokee Nation to maintain our visibility and presence at the State Capitol, to better protect the interests of our sovereign nation. We are here today advocating for core services including education, health care and infrastructure enhancement," Baker said.
Other tribal officials welcomed to the floor included Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez, Miss Cherokee Ja-Li-Si Pittman, Jr. Miss Cherokee, Madison Whitekiller, and several youth ambassadors.
“The Cherokee Nation has thrived, culturally and economically, creating jobs and partnering with local cities for projects that benefit all Oklahomans,” said Sparks, D-Norman. “It’s an honor to welcome Chief Baker and everyone to the Capitol and acknowledge the Cherokee Nation’s importance to our state’s past and our future.”